The year 2000, though most notable for its marking of another millennium, brought something new to the auto industry in particular that would change the standard of automotive safety for the years following: new legislation that required new rules over an automaker’s disclosure of vehicle recalls.
Since then, there have been a few phenomenally large safety recalls affecting a plethora of various vehicles. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tallies the “potential number of units affected,” whether they are vehicles or components, Automotive News points out; this can potentially skew the results, as cars with more than one component — tires, for example — will be counted for the number of problematic parts and not the vehicle itself. Further, “some of the biggest safety problems of the past decade do not appear or appear lower than they otherwise would because they were broken into several campaigns rather than being announced all at once,” Automotive News observes.
Nonetheless, the publication crunched the numbers, compiled the needed data, and came up with this following list of the 10 largest recall efforts from the last 13 — going on 14 — years.
10. General Motors Co. — 1.8 million vehicles, 2003
A faulty windshield wiper motor on a number of General Motors’s minivans, pickups and SUVs spurred a recall, as the unit could fail due largely to a bad circuit board, rendering the wipers inoperable (the picture above is not a General Motors vehicle, but a Mazda 3).
9. Toyota Motor Corp. — 2.3 million vehicles, 2010
The 2010 recall from Toyota was the second largest recall resulting from unintended acceleration issues that plagued the company/ It covered cars that potentially had acceleration pedals that could get stuck and not let up under the driver’s foot.
8. Chrysler — 2.4 million vehicles, 2004
This recall actually affected numerous problems within the whole Chrysler family, as the Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler nameplates — due to badge engineering — all got hit by an interlock problem that let cars slide out of the park setting without a key in the ignition, Automotive News reports.
7. Toyota — 2.5 million vehicles, 2012
This time around, it was the window switch assembly on 10 different 2007-2009 Toyota models, including the extremely popular Camry and Corolla, which were recalled because the unit could potentially melt and catch on fire.
6. Ford Motor Co. — 3.6 million vehicles, 2007
Ford’s recall in 2007 was one of several related to a faulty cruise control switch, which took a toll on numerous models over the years. However, the 2007 effort had particular implications: It was directly correlated to the ubiquitous Crown Victoria, which was then in widespread use as a police car and taxi cab.
5. General Motors — 3.7 million vehicles, 2004
When someone buys a pickup truck, it’s expected that the vehicle will hold up to the most rugged of tasks. Imagine the surprise of many GM truck buyers in the early 2000s, then, when they found out that the tailgate would break if merely sat upon. GM launched a recall of 3.7 million Chevrolet Silverado, Avalanche, and GMC Sierra models to solve the issue (pictured is a 2012 Avalanche).
4. Toyota — 4.4 million vehicles, 2009
The 2009 recall of 4.4 million vehicles was Toyota’s largest recall relating to the unintended acceleration debacle — the gas pedal could get potentially get stuck under the floor mat. The Camry, Prius, Tacoma (pictured), and seven other models were affected.
3. Ford — 4.5 million vehicles, 2005
The Texas Instruments-made cruise control switch that would be at fault for the 2007 recall on Crown Victorias was also the cause of 2005′s 4.5-million unit recall, which covered pickups, SUVs, and vans from as far back as 1994.
2. Ford — 4.5 million vehicles, 2009
The same cruise control unit fault — which would be responsible for seven separate recalls in total — prompted one of 4.5 million vehicles in 2009, in an attempt that recalled all the remaining vehicles not initially covered by Ford’s previous efforts. Overall, some 16 million vehicles were affected by the cruise control switch issues.
1. Ford — 13 million tires, 2001
Just one year after a recall of 6.5 million tires, Ford launched a far larger effort, recalling millions more pickups and SUVs equipped with Firestone-made tires that tended to disintegrate at higher speeds. The recall was not relegated to one or two specific models, but covered several nameplates, including the Explorer, from the 1991-2002 model years.
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